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Pirate’s Life Lessons( Stress Reduction Plan)

“The only rules that really matter are these: What a man can do, and what a man can’t do.” – Jack Sparrow

One of the many gems we can learn from this wise pirate.

So what can i do?

I have a few hours today to hunker down and set some very serious rules for myself. So far, here’s the skinny:

  1. i can switch to decaf coffee, strive to not smoke, drink more water, take a better multi-vitamin and go back to the gym( to start with)
  2. i can cut out unnecessary obligations
  3. i can choose to let go of things that do not affect the overall outcome of my life and goals( for instance – cleaning out all the kitchen cabinets, pulling out appliances to clean under them, doing my budget weekly( monthly should suffice), etc. Also- CLEANING UP AFTER OTHERS!
  4. i can choose not to stress that others are not doing their job, even if it affects my ability to do my job.( probably my biggest issue)
  5. i can refuse to take up the slack and do others jobs and i can allow the consequences to be their own lesson
  6. i can refuse to micromanage things, and stick to boundaries – with absolute consequences. I have been way to flexible and empathetic, often leading to taking on more stress myself
  7. i can stop stressing about bills being paid on time , every time. If this means late fees, or utility shut offs, etc then it is what it is and i can only do what i can do. It shouldn’t be only my responsibility in a household of 3 adults.
  8. i can stop stressing about my property investment falling apart due to water on the floor, furnace cycling constantly because the vents and airflow/ thermostat was messed with, etc , etc, etc.
  9. basically – fuck it.

These things are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my stress factors. My brain, my heart, and my body simply cannot continue taking on the brunt of all of it. allow me to go on…

  • i can stop worrying about other people problems- whether they are homeless or not, have enough food or heat or access to healthcare, etc.This is NOT on me. I have spent way too much time on these things
  • i can focus on caring for myself with out being selfish, self centered or self serving. There is a balance, and a compromise.
  • i can say NO..and allow others to figure it out on their own or choose to be upset with me.
  • i can stop focusing on fear and start focusing on what is best for my own health. I have sacrificed enough of myself for the sake of others for far too long.After all, i have been a nurse- taking on the risks of what that entails for decades- up to and including daily exposure ( i cannot work from home or shelter in place), limiting my own choices to protect others( i.e. not going to the gym etc), and being one of the sacrificial lambs to take this vaccine when many others wanted to “wait and see”
  • i can ask myself “is this my job? or someone else’s?”

Anyway, you get the gist. I do realize this is going to cause many in my life to become angry. But at this point, they will either have to get over it or maintain a grudge ( sapping their own energy rather than helping themselves). Trust me, it’s going to be extremely tough for me as well. I have to stop myself from habits/roles i’ve had my entire life. The care taker, the responsible one, the rock. I need to be water now.

And begin the process of my own healing.

“You’ve stolen me and I’m here to take myself back.” – Jack Sparrow

Namaste.

Stress Lesson

Not to bore anyone but i am finally home after almost 3 days in hospital and feel the need to explain just how horrible this whole event was.

First of all, i don’t know if anyone reading has ever felt a sustained heart rate of over 200 for 5 hours, but i can tell you the pain is incredible and unrelenting. You are tired as crap but cannot lay down. You cannot breathe in fully without even more severe pain. And no matter how hard you tell yourself you to suck it up and get over it, meditate, and breathe as slowly as you can- you get to a point where you can no longer deny it’s a life or death issue. Thats where i was after 2 1/2 hours. I could barely move, was on all fours on the floor and had trouble even texting my clients mom to come down to call 911. I certainly couldn’t talk to them myself. I knew i was no longer able to care for my client and would be putting him at risk, especially if i passed out or went into cardiac arrest.The decision to call was based on his risk, not my own.

It is insanely shocking and surreal . I have never had heart issues other than occasional palpitations that were bothersome but not life altering. I started on the lowest dose of Metoprolol years ago for it and never had an issue since. But with this event, the pain and rapid heart rate started so suddenly and for no apparent reason. I kept trying to get it under control and blow it off as my usual anxiety . Unfortunately it was not. The paramedics and even the hospital struggled to get my heart back to normal for over an hour with injectable cardiac meds with no results. Eventually , they had to send 200 jules of electric to my heart. Cardioversion was the only solution.

It worked. Blood tests showed my magnesium and potassium to be dangerously low- with no known cause. After the 3 days of constant testing , bloodwork and inquisition the only answer i got was possible prolonged stress causing Vtach/SVT/A-fib . But no one had any other answers. All the testing and bloodwork showed nothing wrong inside my heart or surrounding organs.Even my lungs were clear. My blood pressure, oxygen sats , temperature and breathing were normal. Just the sudden, sustained high heart rate.

I am now on a new anti arrythmia medication and magnesium supplement. I have a follow up at a cardiologist. ME, who dances around and jumps with wild abandon to mosh bands and punk rock. ME, who has always maintained some level of fitness most of my life ( pandemic not withstanding). ME, 54 years old with no serious medical history .

Folks, it can happen at any time to anyone for no reason. This i learned. In fact the attending cardiologist says he sees more of this with those are physically fit, eat well, etc. Because we are the types that are so hard on ourselves, and think we can “handle it all”.And p.s.- even though i brought up smoking as a cause several times he said with the amount i smoke it really wasn’t a factor- it doesn’t help, but not what caused it.I smoke 10 or less cigs a day.He says you would see tis possibly as a cause in those who smoke a pack or more a day.

We are not Gods, no matter how much we deny our own mortality and fragility.

Stress. I was told to avoid it..”But how?” i said ” It’s all around us, everyday. “

“Stop taking on so much and learn to say no ” was the answer i got in response. “It’s going to kill you”.

Literally.

Guess i have some new goals to work on.

Namaste.

When Will this Month End????

As if February wasn’t bad enough..i guess it wanted to go out out with a bang.

Yup, thats me- extreme close up in the emergency room about 3 am Tuesday morning. Taken right from work in mid shift by ambulance because my heart rates were over 200 for several hours and i couldn’t get them down. I honestly thought i could meditate/relax it away. But even the paramedics couldn’t get it down with 3 shots of adenosine, so off we went to the ER. Once there, they tried 3 more higher doses with no results and so had to called cardiologist to come do cardioversion (because i was in V-tach/a-flutter for about 4 hours)- lidocaine, a bit of anesthesia and 200 jules of shock.Lucky me.Now i’ve been transferred to telemetry waiting for other tests and still haven’t seen the cardiologist again for explanation.Stress test is in a.m.

No idea how or why this happened.It was sudden and scary.If i had not caved and called up for the case mom to come down and call 911, i may have been dead.My magnesium and potassium were so low i had to be on drips all night and take meds all day today( blood thinners, etc) and thats all i have been told so far….

February- you can stuff it up your nose!

Day 28

Even though Friday was rough, i made it through and by Saturday afternoon the mental fog had cleared. My BF and i had the most wonderful evening together (without alcohol and no awkwardness.) I do not think in all of our 8 months together i ever felt so calm and comfortable with him , or as close. Phew!yay for sobriety!

What can i say about day 28? I can say it’s much much better than day 1-27…but getting even this far hasn’t been without struggles. There were days i thought i wouldn’t make it through- once again questioning how i would be able to deal with so many things without my weekly fix to look forward to or the easy way around dealing with anxiety. In fact, thats what i want to post about tonight. Anxiety.

I don’t know about the rest of ya’ll but this month for me has been THE worst of all the months of the pandemic. I was sick and had to go through the ordeal of Covid testing in addition to having both doses of the vaccine. I just restarted my recovery after having to admit to relapse. I am also starting the process of quitting smoking again. In addition, my ( peri)menopausal symptoms have been making a screaming come back– rolling hot flashes being the least of it. Not to mention the constant issues with winter weather and loss of income.The result of all this has been extreme anxiety- more frequent and on a scale i have never had before. Days have gone by when i literally feared i was losing my grip on reality, such was the constant fear. But i believe i am finally coming out of the fog ( fingers crossed-hard!)

In that regard, i decided that i needed to push as hard as i could to fight back. Every little measure i can think of- yoga, meditation, lots of water, and a renewed spiritual connection . I even went so far as to scrape all of the black paint off of my bedroom windows and remove all of the room darkening paraphernalia that comes with a decades-long night shift schedule. The only component i kept was the black out curtains which i can draw back as often as possible to let some light into my bedroom when i am not sleeping. My intentions are to bring some low maintenance plants into the room as well to actually have some “life” in my sleeping quarters for the first time in years. I recently bought a large water fountain for my entry way and intend to get a smaller version for my room as well. I did a lot of organizing and purging and even replaced all of my smoke detector batteries..So i feel a (small) sense of accomplishment.

I am determined to win this war against this recently-surfaced demon, and all of his friends.We will ‘come to terms’ and live in peace. I have my battle plan, i have my inner strength, and i have my support system.

A recent acrylic piece- needs a little clean up, but 95% done

Namaste!

Relapses and Slips

Along with the post about black outs i have always intended to post my thoughts on slips and relapses. I realize now though that perhaps i hesitated because up until recently, i had no personal experience with relapse and my information would have been based on external sources. It would have been superficial to say the least. And when i began experimenting again this past year, i never considered any planned drinking as a ‘slip’, per-say. After all, i didn’t just fall into a glass of alcohol, like some kid of accident. But slips are not really like that. They are defined by their short bursts of intensity with intents to continue in recovery . And they are the stepping stones to relapse.

In all honesty, i never believed relapse would happen to me. I was cruising along 6, 12 then 15 months without a glitch.I headed into experimentation with confidence, despite any and all questions or subtle suggestions from others. Hell, i was in a new and wonderful relationship..i had put in my sober time..i was happy..what could go wrong? I truly thought i was “handling ” it. ( if you don’t believe me, read some of my posts from May through August.) In September i had a moment when i started realizing i was getting a bit casual with it and decided all i needed was a 30 day break, a reset…And even when i only made it 3 weeks i still couldn’t see what was happening.

Then there was the bad experience in October with my BF. I chalked it up to circumstance and kept going. November- another bad experience. STILL i kept going. December, then January..increased problems and not just with the BF. It finally dawned on me when i announced my new intentions on here and a fellow blogger said something along the lines of “sorry you had a relapse, but glad you are back on track” I apologize i don’t remember who it was but i want to say THANK YOU. Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. Yes, i had ‘relapsed’ and not even recognized it for what it was.The words hurt, but not because i felt offended. They hurt because i had to acknowledge the fact. I am so grateful to that person.

Previously, i had been of the notion that relapse was something like the movies..particularly one i watched at about 6 months into sobriety called “Drunks”( 1995). Lots of famous people in the cast..check it out if you have a night and are totally bored.The main character was a recovering alcoholic , sober for about 2 years i think. He spoke in AA meetings, and was sort of a sponsor. Then he gets pushed over the edge with some personal issues and just goes nuts. He walks into a liquor store and gets a bottle. The night progresses and he even tries taking some heavy drugs in his altered mental state. It was fast and furious and probably way less common than the typical relapse. I knew i would ever do such a thing so i just wrote off relapse as something that would happen under only extreme duress or to a lifelong drinker. Not to me, for sure.

But i suspect most relapses happen more like my own. Slowly, subtly..taking us unawares. Starting with attempts at moderation, control, and/or experimentation.Telling ourselves we are fine. Until one day we aren’t.

I have said it before, and i’ll say it again. I don’t exactly regret the experience. It has taught me a lot about myself. Incredibly, i now know i can STILL fail at any time. No matter how much sober time i have, or how together i think i am. For me, vigilance isn’t enough. It’s an illusion of control that i do not have. Perhaps it isn’t the same for everyone and i do not judge or make assumptions. But for me any drinking is walking on an oil slicked , steep hill in high heels.

I thank all of you who have been here for me along my journey and for those i have just connected with. Stay Strong.

Namaste.

A Short One

Today i woke feeling as if i had a hangover. I did not drink, but that awful feeling of dread was there. For one thing i suppose, my sleep schedule was off from last nights work/weather issue. But also, i had a horrible night mare and woke for a bit trying to sort it out. It didnt help seeing that it’s still snowing outside.

On any other day, i would look out and see this light snow shower as nothing but a pretty picture that would soon melt and allow me to go about my day/night. Today, it will take all of my efforts to put on my big girl pants and a ‘good face’ as they say. Today, i will be grateful that i still have heat, electric and clean hot water-my heart goes out to those in Texas. Today, i will strive to find every possible source of light i can.

I begin this effort by writing and reading here. Blogging truly helps me in a way other social media platforms do not. I always look for new bloggers to follow and usually find some good ones. Today, i found this one:

https://outfromthevoid.com/

Although i have never watched more than the first 20 minutes of Game of Thrones, i always recall the winter scene in my head. As this blogger mentions-it certainly depicts how i’ve been feeling. A deep, endless winter …beautiful to behold but with underlying tones of danger. Just looking at it is a mixed bag of emotions.

It’s still snowing. In the time i have spent writing this ( and editing , editing , editing) it hasn’t stopped. A good 2 hours of trying to write out my thoughts, going back to delete again and again because i start to get bleak in them. Yet, cars are moving fine on the road outside my door, so i have hope. And the weather report says it will stop soon. And for now i will also stop and try to write something more positive and motivating later.

i hope this finds you well.

Namaste.

And Then Today Happened..

Sometimes i think i was born from yo-yo.

In the past week- no..month…no year..i seem to just go up & down with my posts. I am not bi-polar , i swear!

Anyway..today- after my night shift last night i anticipated driving the 45 minutes home in a possible 1 ” of snow and that i would be calling off due to the projected forecast. I was actually looking forward to the break as i am on 11 shifts with only one day off . HOWEVER- my drive home was a nightmare. It started snowing heavily right as i left work and took me and hour and a half of white knuckling it. I slept a few hours , then wake to see the snow had ended and we got about 3-4 inches total.Roads looked clear enough so i re-adjusted myself mentally to go to work. By 6p i hunkered down to spend several hours doing my thing- yoga, deep meditation, and trying to nap in preparation for a long night. Thankfully, my roommate spent several hours clearing off my car and the driveway so i could get out. Still, i had to run my car for 15 minutes before leaving and finish scraping the windows because there was still a thick sheath of ice all over it that she wasn’t able to get off earlier.

Undeterred, i start down the road…within 30 seconds i realized that although the roads looked fine from my window they were awful. Less than a mile along i discovered the one route i usually take was blocked off due to an accident. Ok- turned around and tried the 2 alternate routes- they were worse. I slid and got stuck on one for about 10 minutes – panicking because i don’t even have AAA and it would take hours for help to arrive. I get out of that and very slowly drive the 2 miles back home- a death defying 2 miles i might add. I live smack in the middle of long steep hills from every side….45 minutes of pointless terror and another lost shift of work. That makes 6 in the past month.

My hill- the flattest part anyway

Warning: I’m just gonna keep whining here so feel free to move on if you want…

Being a single woman, i have no partner to help with the bills. I am not ‘salaried’ as a nurse so when i lose a shift, i lose those hours in income. I make way less than most RN’s because i work in private duty. I get 40 hours per year ( finally after 20 years in the field) of PTO time a year and I had to fight hard for it. I am trying to save it for vacation, but have already had to use 8 hrs for vaccine side effects. I am still paying for said vacation in June via payments. Also, having several days off to be tested for corona and not getting paid..AND having to pay out of pocket for the test just to be allowed back to work…it sometimes feels like an unending battle.

The heat and electric bills this year have been insane…going up every month…in a house that is a huge upgrade from the old city row home i was renting previously i would have thought the bills would be less, but in fact they are tripled.Makes no sense at all.

More complaining…

This pandemic.

Menopause.

Trying to stay sober.

Trying to quit smoking.

On top of everything too- when i got home all i wanted was my first cup of hot chocolate for the winter and a Xanax. The hot chocolate i made was awful and i was out of xanax. I am now off my sleep schedule as well, nothing to really do but try to sleep or play around mindlessly online.

But guess what? There’s still so much good. I just got a personal message from a very talented musician who honored me by asking me for opinion on several tracks he is considering for a solo album. Made my night. And even though it’s been a rough one, sometimes it only takes a small gesture to set things right in the world again.

So thank you ,Universe. I survived. You knew exactly what i needed tonight.

Life is good, and tomorrow is another day.

Namaste!

Even Wolves Need Self Care

tonights piece

Something a little more positive, lest those who have been reading here as of late get the idea that i am just a miserable person with a drinking problem.. Yeah i know it sounds like that but i beg you to go back and read posts from the beginning and such. Big Sigh– It’s just that the combination of the pandemic, menopause, this darned weather and being sick for almost a month- topped with realizing all of that had led back to some bad habits- well, i do feel a bit miserable at times.So today, i give you positivity.

In light of everything and since i have been feeling better and stronger, naturally i am going back into goal and accomplishment mode ( as is my norm). Yes, it is true- one can be struggling with some things, but still have their sh*t together for the most part.:).So i’m just gonna go ahead and get back into this years goals and life challenges as mentioned in the beginning of 2021.I had posted on December 29th about a few things i wanted to tackle this year and so far have only posted about some of the financial stuff.

Let me start with #6 ( just to be a little snarky about it-lol)- exercise and health.

This week i did start getting back to doing some yoga and meditating. Even within 3 days, i can feel a bit of a difference.Even today, when i was quite busy, i made time . The way i accomplish goals has been from years of trial and error before finding a sort of system that works. Some call it small changes or baby steps.For me it goes a bit like this:

1.1 week ahead i talk myself into something…”i’m going to start doing yoga/meditating again”

2. Spend that time also procrastinating but fially setting a date & time

3. Hours before that time i debate about the pros and cons then PUSH myself into it

4. usually i start small- 15 min yoga, 20 minutes meditate, and this will go on for a few days

5. I will always start to feel stronger by day 3, and it motivates me to keep going, sometimes adding time or a new pose, etc.

6. by the end of this week i have “gym” written on my calendar again..its been 2 months.

Now, eventually all of this turns into a habit . Meanwhile i might be working on other larger or smaller goals..in this instance sobriety and smoking cessation. With smoking, i start with not smoking when i leave my house. I move my usual laptop work area so it doesn’t trigger chain smoking sessions. I might start counting the # of cigs i have on average each day, and then making a weekly plan to wean off slowly.. This has worked in the past and i feel confident in it. With drinking, it’s announcing it, asking others for support by not drinking around me, and planning projects for my usual nights off.

So, i am back to doing all of this and today , finally our libraries were open so able to get some CD books out to listen to in the car again. Have been tanning once a week for some sun/color or whatever, taking supplements, and drinking more water, less coffee.Ah, i feel normalcy just around the corner.

As you can see, these are all tiny steps..and i will take my time with them…not rushing because that sets me up for failure. I have so much to do, many goals and i am getting back to them with the knowledge of previous experience. And you can too.

We all realize this pandemic has affected us, and may for many months or even years to come. Yet we have to survive and care for ourselves .

There’s never a better time to start than right now.Look in all directions and find your growth .

Last nights piece

Namaste.

Blackouts- What they are, and aren’t..

When i first started thinking about making this post so many things went through my mind. Of course i thought about my own experiences, and how, from those experiences, realizing just how many times i had witnessed others in a black out state. In fact, i hadn’t known what it actually meant until i read a very good book about it called “Blackout” by Sarah Hepola. The funny thing is when i looked up an image in google images to post along with this topic here is basically what i saw:

And so on…i was kind of taken aback. It seems that most of the world truly believes what i did prior to understanding the difference between passing out and blacking out. How can it be that even with all of the current knowledge we have acquired about this disease that this most dangerous aspect is misconstrued even by such a large platform of images????

“First, it does not mean that you pass out or become unconscious. In fact, by definition, people who have had alcohol-related blackouts have retained consciousness, said Reagan Wetherill, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist who does addiction research. “A person in a blackout is conscious and interacting with their environment,” she said.”

In fact, way back when i first started going to various AA meetings, trying to find one i was comfortable with, i even attended one particular meeting where the 2 men running it seemed clueless as to the difference. As it was a new group, there were only 4-5 of us and we all were able to speak that night. When it came to my turn i explained i knew i needed to seek help when i started having blackout periods. I explained in detail that i had been fully functional ( as told to me by witnesses) and even appeared to be mostly “normal”. I was interacting, not slurring, speaking and physically acting like i did at almost any other part of the night. Sometimes though i would say and do things that were not very nice, not very acceptable, and totally out of character. And i remembered NONE of it. One of the men piped up and stated that perhaps i just did not want to remember it. The other one then chimed in and stated that many alcoholics claim not to remember out of embarrasment.

I.was.livid. And i never returned to that group.It was humiliating and i felt like i was directly being accused of lying.

But here’s the real deal. During a true blackout, the brain is not capable of recording the events. It is complete and total amnesia. In fact, you will never remember the events because your brain simply does not keep them on file. You don’t remember even when prompted, told details or even if you are show a video of yourself. FACTS.

That is why this part of drinking is so dangerous. The consensus is that it occurs not from how much is drank, but the combination of that and the speed at which you drink it. Adding in other factors for age, height & weight as well as type of alcohol- it can be lethal. Think “amnesia of the truly stupid”. I have literally climbed rooftops, trees and towers. I have fallen down flights of stairs. I have gone on raging bouts of anger towards someone for things i don’t even remember, sometimes throwing or punching things- then waking up wondering why in the hell i was bruised and bleeding.

But, i was lucky. I never got into a car.I never roamed the streets. I never turned a weapon on myself or seriously, physically harmed anyone. I never completely broke a bone ( just twisted ankles , cracked a rib and fractured my tailbone). I never landed i a hospital or jail. But that isnt the case for many.

When i learned and hence became aware that this phenomenon was very real, i delved into educating myself about it. Yet even now, trying to explain it to those who have never dealt with it, especially on a regular basis, is still tough. People simply cannot comprehend the biological process regarding how the brain operates( or rather doesn’t operate correctly) during these moments.They are still thought to be simply passing out, or deliberately not remembering by many.

I hope as we discover more about the effects of this toxin, we are able to educate others more fully and correctly.

If you havent read it :

Namaste.

Lifelong Battle

I remember the first time i ever tried to quit drinking. It was October 7th, 2015. I lasted 82 days and caved right around my birthday. I remember the second time i tried to get sober. It was November 10th, 2018. I lasted 3 weeks, started again and lasted until January 17th 2019. Finally on January 18th , my third try, i made that solid decision to get sober . This lasted 15 months and i did not really start failing until May of 2020. The little slips, the casual feeling that i was finally ok to moderate lasted until September when i decided again to go for 30 days without. I made it 3 weeks. January 25th of this year i started again.

This my friends, is what recovery can be like. It’s a constant battle. And it’s both humiliating and frustrating. It has not gone unnoticed by me, even on here, that many avoid even talking/blogging about their slips until months or weeks afterwards when they feel they’ve gotten a handle on it again. I have a strong feeling too, that some never even mention them. In my personal life- i’ve seen a few so entrenched in guilt they never get back on the wagon again because they feel powerless in comparison with those who have seemingly had ‘immediate success’. I have watched a few die because of it as well.

Because i know first hand how tough this whole thing can be, how i thought i had it beat after those 15 months , and how i slid ever so gently from slips into relapse within a few months , i also know how much it meant to me to know that i was not alone in times of frustration and failures. I remember reading a few blogs and posts during the days after a failure, or even near failures and thinking “Thank God i am not the only one!”. And while it’s awesome to see success, hear about cravings that someone got through, the real power of support isn’t all in the congratulations, it’s in finding common ground . This is mainly i believe why AA has been so successful.In the few months i went, the best meetings were not the the ones when someone had tried once and was sober for years but those spoke honestly about their journey- warts and all.

Accountability is a bitch. It’s embarrassing.But it is also the bedrock of recovery.

So, what does this mean? It means i keep going with my commitment.Even if i fail or slip. It means that after the discussion i had with my roommate and boyfriend about not being able to have it around me at all for the foreseeable future gave me hope that i can again succeed. But it also means more difficulty than i had initially thought i would have.Perhaps being sick was a Godsend, and helped me thru those first 3 weeks. But now i see that the triggers are still there, and the fight is still going to be very real.

I cannot guarantee 100% success. I don’t believe any alcoholic gets it right the first time around, not if they are honest. I do know that confession is hard also. I hope to do well. I hope to win. And i hope all of you struggling win too.

But please don’t be afraid of telling your stories. You never know who you might be saving.

Namaste…..

The Dragon

The Dragon has long teeth
The Dragon is merciless
He sees the world as his own and
He means to take it that way

When you ride the silent burning embers of the night
You ride with caution
And quietly lay yourself on his back

In this way you see the world sufficiently
You learn not to expect
Your stomach is full of the mind
And your feet cease to exist

Because, or ..is there a “because”
You always question but accept all the answers
And you try to decide
if the ride is worth the price

Me- Septemeber 2014